J&K: 8 Parties to Oppose Voting Rights to Non-Locals, Term it ‘Unacceptable’
Srinagar: National Conference (NC) president Farooq Abdullah on Monday said that the leaders who participated in the all-party meet at his Gupkar residence unitedly opposed the inclusion of non-locals as voters in the region terming it “unacceptable”.
"We can’t accept that non-locals can vote here. In September we will invite the leaders of national parties in Srinagar or Jammu and we will put forth all the issues before them,” Abdullah said.
The NC leader said they may also approach the court to bring a stop to the move after he led a meeting of eight parties including NC, Congress, People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Awami National Conference (ANC), Shiv Sena, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Janata Dal-United and Akali Dal. The meeting was also attended by PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, CPI(M) leader M Y Tarigami, ANC leader Muzaffar Shah and newly elected J&K Congress president Vikar Rasool.
Farooq Abdullah said they also discussed the recent violence against civilians and policemen in the Kashmir valley. He added that the decision will also make non-locals and others “vulnerable”. The former chief minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir said that he also called Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha some days back asking him to call for a meeting of all leaders, but there was no response.
"The statement of Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of J&K and clarification by the information department is unacceptable to us," CPI(M) leader Tarigami said.
The leaders argued that the EC claimed that there will be revised electoral rolls with an increase of 25 lakh voters but the numbers may even go up to 50 lakh or even one crore.
“J&K’s identity is facing a direct assault. With this move, there is a threat to the identity of Dogras, Kashmiris, Sikhs and other communities,” the NC leader said, adding that the fall-out of voting rights to outsiders would remove locals from the legislative Assembly.
“Tomorrow the legislative Assembly will be in the hands of outsiders,” he said.
The row over voting rights got stoked in the region after Hirdesh Kumar Singh, CEO, J&K, announced that people who were ordinarily living in J&K would be eligible to register as voters.
Monday’s meeting was skipped by Apni Party led by Altaf Bukhari and the Peoples Conference led by Sajad Lone. Lone, however, opposed the move and said he would go on hunger strike if there was an attempt by the Centre to change the electoral demography of the Union territory, something that many believe will be the outcome after the electoral rolls are finalised.
“The law (Representation of The Peoples Act-1951) is not a threat to us but to those who are tasked to implement it,” Lone said during a press conference in Srinagar.
“We will wait and watch till October 1 and see whether there is an attempt to change the demography of J&K then we will protest outside Parliament,” he said.
Meanwhile, scores of PDP workers held a protest in Jammu against the proposed inclusion of non-local voters, terming the move as discriminatory and an attempt to engineer a particular electoral outcome.
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